Ondrej Pavelec remembers the National Anthem on Opening Night. From there, things are a bit of a blur.
The Atlanta Thrashers netminder, who collapsed to the Philips Arena ice moments after the song ended on opening night against the Washington Capitals recounted the night and chronicled his return to the ice on Tuesday.
“I’m excited to go back and see how things go,” Pavelec told a scrum of reporters at the team’s practice facility in Duluth, Ga. after taking for the first time since the injury. I think it went pretty good. I was out for 30 minutes and it was good.”
It was a joyful return for the 23-year-old Czech goalie, who gave his teammates, his friends and family and NHL fans throughout the World a bit of a scare on Oct. 7. Pavelec’s concussed body lay limp for approximately 20 minutes on the cold ice after the netminder passed out and was taken off the ice in a stretcher.
By the time Pavelec finally came to in the ambulance, he was a little bit confused about what just happened.
“First time (when I woke up), I didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “Nobody told me. I couldn’t feel my legs. When I get to the hospital I started to feel my legs and the doctors told me what happened. After those tests in the hospital they told me I was going to be fine.”
Pavelec stayed in the hospital for two days and spent another day at the hospital for tests while the doctors tried to trace the origin of the injury and his fourth concussion, getting poked prodded and scanned all over his body. While an exact cause was never found, the physicians found the fall was caused by a neurocardiogenic syncope episode (a type of fainting spell) that was not caused by a serious brain and heart injury. However the Atlanta goalie was still suffering from conclusive headaches, which was the result of the netminder hitting his head on the ice.
A frustrated Pavelec had to watch his team play on its four-game road trip from the hospital and his Atlanta home. That and some broken equipment are the only casualties of Pavelec’s fainting spell. The netminder is keeping things in prospective.
“That’s the biggest problem, I got a new chest protector and new pads,” he said. “I had (the old ones) for two years. I got the new ones, but I am happy I’m healthy. Those things are not a problem.”
The Thrashers goalie underwent one last series of tests two hours before taking shots during practice. The results of those tests should be available on Tuesday afternoon. Assuming he gets the all-clear, he will work his way back into game shape. But that should take a while, since Pavelec has not played hockey in 10 days.
“I just want to be healthy right now and get back to game shape and we’ll see what’s going to happen,” he said. “My goal is to play the games. I want to play the game again. I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but I am looking forward to getting into game shape and being on the ice another game.
“I think it happened at a right time at a game. Could you imagine if I was driving? It would be worse. I want to put it behind me. It’s going to be almost two weeks. Hopefully, now it’s get back to what happened before. Hopefully, it will never happen again.”
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